Sanjay Rathod (centre) staged a show of strength at Washim, where thousands of his supporters gathered, violating Covid norms. (HT FILE)
Sanjay Rathod (centre) staged a show of strength at Washim, where thousands of his supporters gathered, violating Covid norms. (HT FILE)

Sanjay Rathod’s future uncertain; BJP may disrupt Maharashtra session

The BJP wants Sena minister Sanjay Rathod to be dropped from state Cabinet; CM Uddhav Thackeray irked over link to woman’s death by suicide, show of strength, say sources.
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 12:12 AM IST

While speculation remains about whether Shiv Sena leader and forest minister Sanjay Rathod will resign before the state legislature’s budget session begins on March 1, the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] has threatened to disrupt the session’s proceedings unless Rathod is dropped from the state Cabinet. The Opposition has alleged a suicide case is not being investigated thoroughly because the deceased was involved with Rathod.

Sources in Shiv Sena said chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is irked by the links to the suicide case and the show of strength staged by Rathod in Washim earlier this week. Rathod may be asked to step down to minimise damage to the Shiv Sena’s image despite him being an influential leader from the Banjara community, which has a strong presence in parts of Vidarbha.

BJP has raised questions about Rathod’s relationship with a 23-year-old woman who died by suicide in Pune on February 8. BJP leader Chitra Wagh said, “The deceased girl’s mobile display showed that there were 45 missed calls from Sanjay Rathod.”

Opposition party BJP has already threatened to not allow the budget session of the state Assembly to proceed if Rathod remains in the state Cabinet. “Rathod has to resign or else we will not allow the budget session to function,” said BJP leader Pravin Darekar, who is also the leader of Opposition in the legislative council.

The deceased was well known on the social media platform TikTok and did not leave a suicide note. The police have registered a case of accidental death and ruled out foul play. BJP has claimed that a series viral audio clips are of Rathod in conversation with the 23-year-old and alleged the suicide case is not being investigated thoroughly.

The parents of the deceased have not filed any complaint with the police so far and have appealed that the 23-year-old not be vilified. “People have to stop vilifying the name of my daughter. I will be forced to either commit suicide or I will lodge police complaints against them,” said her father.

Thackeray is said to have been irked by Rathod because Rathod disappeared for 15 days after the suicide. Also, Rathod staged a show of strength at Washim, where thousands of his supporters gathered, violating the Covid-19 restrictions. Additionally, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is believed to have conveyed to Thackeray that Rathod may be spoiling MVA’s image.

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